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20 Lines to Write Before Starting Your Pitch Deck

Founder Collective
Mar 22, 2019 · 3 min read

When getting ready to pitch VCs, founders often jump right into assembling a slide deck. I think this is a mistake. I’d suggest that you start by writing twenty headlines that sum up your startup, and only then build the slides.

Here’s why:

It’s hard to digest lots of content. Narratives are much easier to digest & simple narratives more so than complicated ones. What are the handful of things you really want the investor to remember? If you tell the story well, they’ll dig-in to more of the complexity later.

Most pitch decks will have slides addressing the following themes (often using these exact titles):

🔥 User Problem

⚙️ Product/Solution

⌚️ Why now?

📈 Market

⚽️ Team

👩‍💼 Business Model

💹 Financials

🥊 Competition

💰 Fundraising

You should touch on all these topics, but founders often create a placeholder slide for each of these topics and start dropping in graphics to support each point. “Here’s a bar chart showing the biggest plausible TAM I could find on Google!” “Ah, here’s our technology on the upslope of a Gartner Hype Cycle!”

When finished, you’ve got something that feels more akin to a book report than a cohesive story. The proforma approach to presenting can work, but the numbers need to be amazing, or the founders need to be incredibly charismatic. Here’s what to do instead:

📺 Write a 30-second commercial about your startup

🐳 Start with a splash

🎨 Paint a picture with words

🖼️ Add images last

This isn’t easy. In a 16:9 slide format, with 28 point title font, you can only fit in ~15 words or ~75 characters per slide. You likely won’t use more than 300 words! Use a subtitle if needed, but brevity is important. The story needs to be crisp.

This may feel like an old school approach, but your story is everything. Stop thinking of your pitch as a checklist. Start thinking like Lin Manuel Miranda. Don’t throw away your shot (Apologies to Hunter Walk).

Managing Partner Eric Paley recently shared this as a tweetstorm. We collected the tweets as a post for your convenience. Please share it with entrepreneurs you know who are preparing to pitch VCs!

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Medium's largest active publication, followed by +731K people. Follow to join our community.

Founder Collective

Written by

Our mission is to be the most aligned VC for founders at seed. #ProudInvestor in @Uber @TheTradeDeskinc @Buzzfeed @Cruise @Diaandco @PillPack @SeatGeek & more.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +731K people. Follow to join our community.

Founder Collective

Written by

Our mission is to be the most aligned VC for founders at seed. #ProudInvestor in @Uber @TheTradeDeskinc @Buzzfeed @Cruise @Diaandco @PillPack @SeatGeek & more.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +731K people. Follow to join our community.

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